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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Be Flexible, Be Grateful For Favor

Judith Martin United Features Sy

Dear Miss Manners: A female neighbor friend drove me across town, where we ate dinner at my male friend’s home. Late in the evening, I got really tired and wanted to leave because I had to go to work the next day. She dilly-dallied around and, frankly, didn’t want to leave because she was having a good time. I considered calling a cab but decided that would be rude. By the time we left, I was so tired I was numb.

On another occasion, I went bar-hopping with my male friend in his car. At about 1 a.m., I told him I needed to go home because I had to go to work the next day. He kept saying, “in a while.” Finally, I left the club by myself and walked all the way home.

Am I wrong in presuming that the person driving has an obligation to the passenger to leave when asked?

Gentle Reader: Are you ever.

To offer a lift to someone who needs it is to confer a favor. The beneficiary of such kindness is supposed to make as little trouble as possible, to seem grateful, and to reciprocate the favor in some way.

Far from being rude, it would have been superpolite to tell the first friend, “Please stay and enjoy yourself. I don’t want to break up the party, so I’ll just call a cab.”

A date is somewhat different: The host is supposed to look after his guest for the evening, and it is the guest who decides when it is time to go home. But for the life of her, Miss Manners cannot tell whether your evening of bar-hopping with a male friend was a date or a joint date-hunting expedition, in which case the rule of flexibility and gratitude would have applied.

Dear Miss Manners: One of the happiest moments of my life was when I stopped operating a restaurant without a license and hung up my apron.

For years I was the host with the most, wining and dining people, carefully cooking fresh ingredients, asking people what they liked and disliked, telling them the menu in advance, not ever wanting anything contributed to the meal from guests - and what did I get for it? Nothing in return.

For years we entertained friends and relatives and hardly ever were asked over for dinner or even an evening of entertainment.

Once a friend said she could not possibly have me over for dinner, as her cooking and entertaining could not compare with mine. I replied that a pizza ordered would do just as well. She did not get the hint, so afterward she was cut off from hog heaven.

Joking aside, I am disgusted.

What bothers me is to have people sit at our dinner table and tell us about restaurants they have gone to and describe the meals in detail while feasting at our table. They eat, burp, push away. Rather than comparing it to casting pearls before swine, it’s more like casting grub to the pigs.

People eat out more today. Anyone can go to a restaurant; it doesn’t take any talent. But it takes care, thoughtfulness, consideration and skill to put on a good meal for eight to 10 people.

It got to the point where people thought it was a regular duty on my part, and one day I took a look at the china, sterling silver, linen napkins, tablecloths, candlesticks and flower vases and thought that if I had wanted to, I could have gone into the restaurant business legally years ago and would have made a success of it. But as I did not want to continue being a lawbreaker by operating a restaurant without the proper permit, I gave it all up and am no worse off for it.

I would like to tell my friends: It is too late. It’s all over. You get what you pay for; you did not even pay us with a sincere thank you. Therefore, the slop shop is closed.

Gentle Reader: Miss Manners hopes you will not be discouraged permanently. There are people who appreciate this, and she hopes you and they will find one another.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Judith Martin United Features Syndicate

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